Are only classical liberals interested in saving money?

I was intrigued to see Mark Littlewood’s suggestion that Nick Clegg’s latest “In The Know” initiative is evidence of his innate classical liberalism.

Maybe Mark is right and inside Clegg there is a slash and burn tax cutter struggling to come out (it certainly seems like that at times), but the idea that saving money is a preserve of classical liberal/libertarians is bunk.

Way back in January I was the rapporteur for a session at the party’s policy conference where we discussed tax and spend. There didn’t appear to be many classical liberals sitting around the table with me but one of the things that exercised us all was how to make pledges to save spending that sound authentic rather than, to coin a cliche, the usual nonsense about cutting paperclips. It ended up forming one of the main things I ended up reporting back. It was just a brainstorming session, but it generated a lot of good ideas:

A said he was sceptical about efficiency savings, citing the Gershon Review and the James Review as ineffective attempts to do this.

B pointed out that the UK government spents £123bn per year on quangoes – the savings could come out of that. He suggested scrapping pay to sit on quangoes (although C pointed out that that would mean that only the wealthy would be able to afford to sit on boards).

He suggested that the current civil service encourages people to manage as much staff as possible. He suggested giving civil servants “financial incentives to do themselves out of a job.” Civil servants who managed to come up with money saving ideas should be rewarded with a proportion of the money they had managed to save. This idea seemed to enjoy broad support from within the group.

D said that, having worked in the public sector, she was disgusted by the level of waste she had seen. Too much pointless paperwork. She called for front line workforce to be “empowered.”

E was concerned that money saving measures would lead to redundancies, but the general view was that this would free up money that could be passed on a tax cuts (or spent differently).

F suggested more extensive use of the Sustainable Communities Act “right to know” how public bodies spend money within each local authority.

(Names deleted).

I like to think that our groups’ call for giving civil servants incentives to do themselves out of a job may have helped pave the way for In The Know, although of course I have no way of knowing if this submission was actually read by anyone rather than quietly shelved.


  1. “how to make pledges to save spending that sound authentic”

    I think that is rather the point. As somebody expelled from the LibDems on the grounds that proposing improving growth by catting taxes is “too right wing” to discuss & “incompatible with party membership” I can say, with certainty, that the intention is not actually to cut spending but to sound authentic when making election promises.

    Clegg knows that the voters can see that spend, tax & spend is bankrupting us & if he is to get their votes he has to con them into thinking he agrees.

  2. Neil, I think it would be closer to the truth to say you were kicked out for claiming Paddy Ashdown eats Serbian babies.

  3. Not true. I do not believe he eats Serbian babies & at the time I was expelled I was unaware that the KLA he had been helping had been cannibalising human beings while alive or that, prior to his support, these Albanian gangsters had a history of dissecting A;banian babies for medical supplies.

    I think it not credible that he was not aware of that.

    The officially given reason for my expulsion was that being a classic liberal was “incompatible with party membership”. It is likely that, as you suggest, that was merely a cover story because saying I was expelled for objecting to genocide wouldn’t sound good. However it means that the given reason must be one the party thoroughly upholds.

  4. I chose my words carefully. At the time of your expulsion you were accusing Ashown of being a war criminal on a daily basis. I doubt anyone was even aware of your views on taxation.

  5. Then you carefully chose to say lie.

    The only mention of Ashdown noted against me was that when he testified in the Milosevic “trial” to having seen the ethnic cleansing of villages from a position, on the border where they could not be seen, he was perjuring himself.

    Being, at least to some slight extent, honest James you will wish to apologise for that lie – or not as the case may be.

    My views on taxation were, as I said, at least officialy, along with my views on the undesirability of letting the lights go out, the overwhelming mass of evidence brought against me.

  6. I didn’t say you lied – I’m sure you believe every word of the garbage you peddle. But I was aware of your attacks on Ashdown before getting kicked out (and your views on energy policy) and had no idea of your views on taxation.

    Given the Scottish Lib Dems are currently lead by a slash’n’burn tax cutter I’d be very surprised you were kicked out for agreeing with him.

  7. I, on the other hand, do not think you can possibly believe that I was accusing Ashdown of being a war criminal “on a daily basis” & of “eating babies”. I note you have not withdrawn these lies.

    My defence to the specific accusations has already been given to you & the fact is that the reason given was specificly that my honestly calling for lower taxes & not letting the lights go out was decided to be “too right wing” to contemplate & “incompatible with party membership”

    That Tavish Scott has tried, unconvincingly, to pretend he supports a tax cut, in light of that, merely proves that he is lying because he knows that there are a lot of really liberal minded people whom he hopes to fool. Such dishonesty is, of course, inherent in any party calling itself “liberal” but committed to medievalism, big state regulatory fascism & racial genocide.

  8. I didn’t lie. I said ‘I think it would be closer to the truth to say you were kicked out for claiming Paddy Ashdown eats Serbian babies’ which isn’t the same thing as saying you DID claim Paddy Ashdown eats babies. Nonetheless I do maintain that it is closer to the truth than your reinvention as a low taxer. Like I said, I chose my words carefully.

  9. Well no, not even if you try to wriggle out of it that way it is not “closer”. Saying somebody eats babies is not remotely close to saying they lied in court & the fact is that officially I WAS expelled for wanting to achieve growth by cutting taxes & stop the lights going out, which were, again officially, described as “too right wing” &”incompatible with membership of the LibDems” so my statement is entirely truthful.

    Nothing was said in the expulsion letter about Ashdown & in any case nobody has seriously disputed that Ashdown’s testimony physically can not be truthful. You may argue that they were unwilling to expel me for telling such an obvious truth but the fact is that was not the reason given.

    To me there is a significant difference in degree between telling lies & eating babies. Having been caught telling lies tou may wish to reconsider your opinion that they are equivalent.

    I never said Ashdown eats babies. Though it is fact he assisted people who had been cannibalising babies I was not aware of that at the time & therefore did not say so.

  10. Ho Ho.

    Actually that would only make sense if you had some evidence I had perjured myself in court. If you have I would be interested to see it.

    I would even be interested to see you producing some evidence that any of the accusations I have made have been in any way untrue but you haven’t even tried that. Instead you are down to “humerous” ad hom nonsense.

  11. Given that we still (just) have a principle of innocent until proved guilty in this country, I don’t need to.

    But that doesn’t detract from the fact that you wouldn’t be so obsessed with this organ legging, baby raping stuff if you didn’t have a guilty conscience – and you haven’t provided a shred of evidence to prove otherwise.

  12. Because of the principle of innocence you claim the right to accuse anybody (well accusing me of lying in court but in principle anybody of anything) & deny an necessity to produce any evidence. Freedom is clearly not safe in the hands of nazis even when the act under cover of being “liberal”.

    By inverted logic you use the fact that you are clearly perfectly comfortable with being personally a racist child raping supporter of genocide & worse is to your credit. You & your Liberal pal Himmler’s. But of course that is more inverted than logic.

  13. Actually, my inverted logic works on the principle that if I keep jerking your chain like this you will make yourself sound more and more ridiculous. This amuses me.

  14. Well if you are happy displaying your enthusiasm for Nazism & genocide who am I to disappoint you. I take it you would claim that enthusiasm is why you haven’t disputed any of the facts, rather than simply knowing they are indisputable?

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